ELCIN Nkurenkuru High School


The chief of the Rukwangalis, hompa Daniel Sitentu Mpasi, had always wanted to have a new school in his area. The first time he spoke about the matter was when the leader of FELM, pastor Alpo Hukka visited Kavango 26. - 29.6.1981. There is no accurate date. Ms Maila Mustonen has told: "We missionaries were having afternoon coffee together with pastor Hukka. Also hompa Sitentu, the vicar and the representatives of Nkurenkure parish were around. The hompa spoke to the mission leader and suggested that the church would start a school of its own. This was the most important message of his speech."

The school issue was discussed for seven years before any action was taken. At first Finnish missionaries didn't consider the suggestion seriously. There were already many government founded schools in Kavango in the 1980's. Some of them were very modern. But the hompa was wise. He saw that the level of education in those schools wasn't satisfactory. The truth was that very few learners passed the examinations. There were not enough schools and classes were too big. Most teachers were unqualified because there had been no higher education in Kavango. Most schools were boarding schools. The teachers had too much work and didn't have time to look after learners in their free time. Learners often went to drinking places and missed the lessons. The church had to face the fact that it was impossible to get qualified local employees.

Hompa Daniel Sitentu said at the end of 1990 about the need of the school: "The government has neglected developing Kwangali people. That's why I asked Finnish missionaries to help us. I hope that these children will not become like me who didn't get a chance to go to school. I know that these children are not stupid but they haven't received good education."

One big reason to the delay of the starting of the school was the uncertain political situation and the war which continued in the area. In 1988 a Dutch anti-racist organization contacted Sam Nuyoma, the president of SWAPO. The organization was looking for a suitable project in Namibia which they could support. Mr Nujoma contacted at first the CCN (Council of Churches of Namibia) and later ELCIN bishop Kleopas Dumeni who suggested that the new school in Nkurenkuru could be a suitable project for the Dutch. Mr Seppo Kalliokoski made the first calculations about the budget of the school, which were later used when the school really started. By that time the independence of Namibia was already closer and the Dutch gave up the plan.

In 1988 there were signs that the war would finally end and Namibia would get her independence of South Africa. The leader of FELM, Dr Henrik Smedjebacka visited Namibia and Botswana in 17.3. - 2.4.1988. By that time there were good times in Finland and FELM had got finances to start a new big project in Namibia. Besides that Dr. Smedjebacka wanted to have co-operation between Finnchurchaid (FCA) and FELM. It was decided that one big project would be the school in Nkurenkuru. Representatives of Finnchurchaid visited Namibia in August 1988 and they accepted Nkurenkuru school to one of their projects. FELM applied for finances from FINNIDA still in 1988 and started to recruit teachers from Finland. In December 1989 the FELM Board decided about the budget for 1990 which was by that time more than six million rand. By that time some plans and actions for the school had already been made in Namibia.

There were several suggestions for the place of the school. The alternatives were Nkurenkuru, Rundu, Rupara and sometimes even Mupini. The Rundu area was neglected because there were already many schools nearby. There were a lot of disciplinary problems. The peaceful Nkurenkuru seemed to be the most suitable place. There were a lot of people living there and learners from remote Mpungu could get a chance for higher education, too. Hompa Daniel Sitentu Mpasi showed two excellent places for the new school in Nkurenkuru. One was close to the Kavango river and the other in the forest nearby. The latter place was finally chosen because the school could get a bigger area, also for the farm. There were already two kraals in that area near the Kavango river and those people would have had to move. Also the river itself would have caused problems. Due to mosquitoes, learners would have often got malaria and after bathing in the river, bilharzia. There would also have been problems with the sewer system. Probably the waste waters would have ended into the Kavango river.

The beginning of a church school in Nkurenkuru was the fulfillment of the dreams of many people in Kavango. Namibia used to have separate schools for white, coloured and black people. The standard of the education was highest in schools for the whites and worst in schools for the black people. Most black teachers were unqualified. There used to be white South African soldiers but even if they were good teachers, the results were poor because these teachers always left after three months. In 1990 when the new school started, there were no South African soldiers around. All races were treated equally. However, it would take a long time that the education of the blacks would reach the level of white people.

© 2009 ELCIN Nkurenkuru High School